Establishing a first-in-the-nation community-based climate change mitigation program that applies urban forestry as a marketable greenhouse gas offset. Colorado communities will work together through the Colorado Urban Forestry Climate Coalition (CUFCC) to develop, aggregate, and market the carbon sequestration function of their urban forests.
Enable communities to collectively harness the greenhouse gas offset potential of their urban forests while optimizing trees’ environmental and human health benefits. The Institute of Environmental Solutions (IES) will help CUFCC member communities accomplish this by first educating community leaders on the environmental impact of the urban forest, then organizing and aggregating data on the carbon sequestration function of their trees, and finally selling this documented climate change mitigation function on the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX).
Stakeholders such as foresters, community planners, utility managers, local and federal government, businesses and industry groups and educators can all get involved. Foresters will play a central role in communicating to their communities the multiple human health and environmental benefits the urban forest is capable of providing, and in collecting tree data. Other local government officials will need to help with the sale of the greenhouse gas offsets. The support of local businesses is also essential to the success of the CUFCC. Contact IES to find out how you can help.
Urban trees – strategically selected, planted, and maintained – can reduce ozone and particulate air pollution, improve stormwater management and conserve building energy use. They can also help to mitigate global climate change by sequestering carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas. Trees also provide social benefits, like increasing property value and reducing crime. However, there are tradeoffs involved in growing an urban forest. Some trees use water and clean the air more effectively than others, and healthy urban forests require investment by the community. IES and our partners will use a sound, scientific approach to make sure the trees planted by CUFCC members are having a positive impact on human health, the local environment and global climate change.
Colorado communities stand to benefit, from increased revenue, increased tree cover, and the associated environmental improvements. Small communities that participate will be rewarded for taking this early action to combat climate change by selling the carbon sequestration function of their trees as greenhouse gas offset credits on the growing carbon market. Urban forests can also filter particulate matter and gaseous pollutants from the air, intercept and clean stormwater runoff, conserve energy in buildings, reduce the urban heat island effect, and provide shade on a hot day! Check out The Tree Project Phase 2 Report for more information on trees’ environmental impact.
Enrollment: CUFCC members will sell their offset projects on the CCX. To sell offsets on the CCX a municipality must emit no more than 10,000 tons of carbon per year. This includes emissions from power plants within city limits, furnaces used to heat city buildings, and the city’s vehicle fleet, but not emissions from private buildings and vehicles or indirect emissions from electricity generation outside the city.
Cooperation: The minimum size for offset projects traded on the CCX is 100,000 tons of carbon. Many communities will need to pool or aggregate their offsets, but each community will be a project owner; each with a contract with a sub-aggregator ( IES). All project owners will contribute to a reserve pool that is used like an insurance policy for offset projects. If a natural disaster destroys one project, revenue from other projects might be used to cover the losses.
Liability: Communities will enter into a contract with the sub-aggregator (IES) specifying that the trees described in the project will be maintained for 15 years. Any deliberate destruction of the project trees (redevelopment) would be a breach of contract. Natural destruction or degradation (disease or fire) would be covered first by a reserve pool of trees.
Environmental impacts: There are environmental tradeoffs in urban forestry that must be considered. For instance, ozone air pollution, which is a critical issue for Coloradoans since the urban Front Range was designated nonattainment for the current EPA 8-hour standard, can be either reduced or exacerbated by tree planting.